The holiday season is definitely one of the happiest times of the year. However, it can also be very stressful. In today’s economic climate, budgeting is more important than ever. We still want to be able to get gifts for those we love, but for many of us that seems overwhelming. Rather you are shopping for kids, spouses, siblings, or parents you might feel like there is no way you will be able to get the gifts you want while still being able to pay your regular bills. However, there are ways you can get through the holidays while maximizing your budget. Here are some tips for you as you set about your holiday shopping.
Plan in Advance
If you can, put a little aside for Christmas gifts throughout the year. If you get direct deposit at work consider putting a small amount of every paycheck in to a savings account with the specific purpose of using it for Christmas. Start putting your change in a jar as well. That money adds up over the course of a year and it could wind up financing your entire shopping budget. In addition to saving money, keep your eyes peeled throughout the year for sales on gifts you know people will want. Not only will this save you money on those gifts but it will also spread out your spending. When Christmas comes, you won’t have to worry about spending as much as you would have had you not bought some things ahead of time.
Search the Web
If you were able to save throughout the year, that’s great. But many people can’t do that. If you find yourself having to buy all of your gifts between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, you are far from alone. Take a look at the wish you lists you received and add that to a gift list you already made. Once you have a list of every gift you need to buy, go in the internet and get a baseline price for each item. Add them all up and you will know what you have to spend to get everything on the list. If you find that your budget allows you to get everything without issue then you have nothing to worry about. If you think you might cut it close, you need to pay attention to sales. That doesn’t mean you need to spend the night waiting in line for a Black Friday deal. Instead, check various shopping websites periodically to see when an item is on sale. Odds are everything on your list will be on sale at least once during the holiday. If you have a smartphone, download all the major store apps. If not, search for deals on the internet. Once you see that an item you thought would cost $100 is suddenly on sale for half that, scoop it up.
If you plan to do most of your shopping online, you should try to do it in as few places as possible. This will ensure you are limiting your shipping payments. It might not seem like much, but those things add up. This is especially true if you shop at many websites. Consider things like taxes and shipping as part of the overall cost of a gift so that you aren’t surprised to find that something you thought would cost $25 ends up costing you $35 after all of the fees. If you are shopping at the stores themselves, plan ahead of time so that you limit the trips you take. For gifts that aren’t major, go to smaller stores such as craft stores or outlet stores so that you can get the most savings possible.
Don’t Cut Yourself Short
The giving spirit is great, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend your money on others. Everyone sacrifices around the holiday season. If you have to, eat out less or don’t plan a weekend away. That’s all the sacrifice you need. But don’t cut yourself short. Make sure you pay all of your bills first and plan for things like food, holiday travel, and anything else you might need. Getting someone an expensive toy may make you feel good, but that feeling will fade if you can’t pay your electric bill. Always make sure you take care of priorities first. If you can’t everything on your kid’s Christmas list, that is okay. Do the best you can with what you have and you will find that everyone you shop for is more than happy with what you got them.
Holiday shopping does not need to be as hard as many make it out to be. It just requires as much planning as you can do. Be patient, shop around, and keep track of spending and you will be fine. Most importantly, don’t feel discouraged and don’t lose sight of what the holiday is really about.